Remembering a great man, someone who stood up to apartheid and, in doing so, raised hope, started change, and inspired millions, is an act that calls upon our best thoughts, some stirring and true words, and often art, that timeless translator of emotion and spirit.
Nelson Mandela, who served as President of South Africa and the visionary behind the anti-apartheid movement, is such a man, and Los Angeles remembered him, with art and ceremony, on Friday, July 18.
City Councilman Tom LaBonge declared July 18 Nelson Mandela Day, and a host of civic and community leaders joined to commemorate his honor, including Rep. Maxine Waters, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, South African Consul General Cyril Ndaba, and Councilmen Herb Wesson.
The Inner City Youth Orchestra lent the morning ceremony some joyful and moving music. A highlight of the ceremony? The unveiling of a portrait of Nelson Mandela by muralist Kent Twitchell. It's on the Berlin Wall Monument on Wilshire Boulevard, so if you would like to visit and spend a moment in memory of a man who changed history, head for wall segment at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard between Genessee Avenue and Spaulding Avenue.
The day was also a celebration "of the 25th anniversary of the toppling of the Berlin Wall."
It's a powerful pairing, the legacy of Nelson Mandela and a chunk of one of history's most notorious barriers. And one that should cause passersby to pause, reflect, and believe that humans really can alter history for the better.